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Oath Keepers leader jailed for Capitol attack |  KTAB

WASHINGTON (AP) — The founder and leader of the far-right militia Oath Keepers remained in jail after his first court appearance on Friday, a day after his arrest he plotted with others to attack the U.S. Capitol to to prevent Congress from certifying the president. Election victory for Joe Biden in 2020.

The seditious conspiracy charges against Stewart Rhodes and 10 other Oath Keepers members or associates are the first to be brought in connection with the Capitol Riot on January 6, 2021. They are also the first to be brought by the Department of Justice for over a decade.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kimberly Priest Johnson ordered Rhodes, 56, of Granbury, Texas, to be held until a detention hearing next Thursday in the Dallas suburb of Plano.

Rhodes appeared in court wearing heavy boots, blue jeans, a faded black Carhartt t-shirt and a blue medical mask. He entered the courtroom chained at the wrists and ankles.

After the hearing, Rhodes’ lawyers said he pleaded not guilty, planned to fight the charges against him and should be released. Defense attorneys Phillip Linder and James Lee Bright said Rhodes had no criminal history, no passport and was not a flight risk.

Bright and Linder said Rhodes had lived in Texas for a year and a half, but they could not say what brought him to the state. They said he had no family present at Friday’s hearing.

An Arizona man who was charged in the same indictment as Rhodes and other Oath Keepers members also made his first court appearance on Friday. US Magistrate Judge Deborah Fine ordered Edward Vallejo, 63, of Phoenix, to remain in jail until a detention hearing next Thursday.

Rhodes and Vallejo were arrested on Thursday. The other nine defendants in the seditious conspiracy indictment had previously been charged with charges related to the Capitol siege.

Earlier Friday, the leader of another far-right extremist group with members charged in the Capitol riot was released from jail in Washington, D.C. Proud Boys president Henry “Enrique” Tarrio served a five-month prison sentence in a case that was not directly related to the Capitol riot.

Video posted to social media showed Tarrio exiting the prison building and hugging loved ones, carrying his belongings in several white plastic trash bags.

“I feel good,” he told reporters as he loaded his bags into a car.

Tarrio was arrested in Washington two days before the Capitol riot and charged with burning a Black Lives Matter banner that was torn from a local black church during an earlier rally by supporters of President Donald Trump. Tarrio pleaded guilty to destruction of property and attempted possession of a high capacity ammunition feeder.

Tarrio noted that the city jail is still holding several defendants accused in the Capitol riot.

“I’m more worried about them than myself,” Tarrio said.

The indictment accusing Rhodes and other oath keepers of seditious conspiracy says they discussed trying to overturn the election results and preparing for a siege by buying weapons and setting up battle plans. On Jan. 6, several members wearing camouflage combat gear made their way through the crowd and into the Capitol in a military-style pile formation, authorities said.

Rhodes did not enter the Capitol building on January 6, but is accused of helping to set the violence in motion.

Authorities said Rhodes was part of an encrypted conversation on Signal with oath keepers from multiple states that showed the group was “activating a plan to use force” on Jan. 6. On the afternoon of the 6th, authorities say Rhodes told the Signal group, “All I see Trump doing is complaining. I don’t see any intention on his part to do anything. So the Patriots are taking this into their own hands. They’ve had enough.

Vallejo is accused of coordinating what federal authorities say are “rapid reaction force” teams that the Oathkeepers have stationed outside Washington on standby with weapons that could be transferred to members and associates of the group.

Authorities say Vallejo, Rhodes and others met at a restaurant in Vienna, Va., on the evening of Jan. 6 to celebrate the attack on the Capitol.

The last seditious conspiracy case was filed in 2010 against members of a Michigan militia. But a judge ordered an acquittal on the sedition conspiracy charges, saying prosecutors had failed to prove members of the Hutaree militia ever had detailed plans for a rebellion. Three militia members pleaded guilty to weapons charges.

Rhodes, a former US Army paratrooper and Yale Law School graduate, founded the Oath Keepers in 2009. The far-right group recruits current and former military, police and first responders.

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Bleiberg reported from Plano, Texas. Billeaud reported from Phoenix. Associated Press reporter Michael Kunzelman in College Park, Maryland, contributed to this story.


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